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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access January 26, 2018

Radial Extension, Prototypicality, and Tectonic Equivalence

Stephen R. Shaver
From the journal Open Theology

Abstract

In his book “Without Metaphor, No Saving God: Theology After Cognitive Linguistics”, Robert Masson describes a metaphoric process by which newly accepted truths emerge: for example, in the assertion “Jesus is the Messiah,” Christians reconfigure the field of meanings associated with an existing concept from the Hebrew scriptures (messiah) by asserting its identification with Jesus. Masson dubs this process a “tectonic equivalence” or “tectonic shift.” In this paper I build on Masson‘s work by examining some of the shifts he describes as tectonic through the lens of the cognitive linguistics concepts of radial extension and polysemy. I propose that a lasting tectonic shift may be understood as a blend creating a radial extension that substantially alters the category structure of the original source frame so that the blended space comes to be understood as a central instance of that category. Such an approach allows a fruitful analysis of the similarities and differences among three example blends: god is a rock, jesus is the messiah, and jesus is god.

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Received: 2017-11-02
Accepted: 2017-12-15
Published Online: 2018-01-26

© 2018

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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